Under-Age Smoking And Vaping Causes Bullying And Sickness In Schools


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Under-Age Smoking And Vaping Causes Bullying And Sickness In Schools
Under-Age Smoking And Vaping Causes Bullying And Sickness In Schools

Teachers warn that even primary schools are experiencing problems

New laws will crack down on smoking and vaping (Image: Getty)

UNDERAGE vaping in schools is leading to an epidemic of bullying and absence.

Children are coerced into obtaining products to be sold or swapped in the playground while pupils are missing lessons due to illness.

Patrick Roach, General Secretary of teachers’ union the NASUWT, said the problems were worse in secondary schools “but we are also seeing teachers reporting pupils vaping from as early as 10 years of age, so the primary phase is also impacted.”

The alarm was raised by teachers’ leaders as they urged the Government to press ahead with plans to ban smoking entirely.

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, will ensure people aged 15 or younger this year can never legally be sold tobacco products, with on-the-spot fines of £100 for retailers breaking the law.

It also includes measures to crack down on youth vaping ,including banning disposable vapes and flavours designed to appeal to children.

Labour is backing the new laws and is calling for even tougher penalties for retailers that supply products to under-age smokers. A Labour amendment would double the on-the-spot fine from £100 to £200.

Shadow Health Minister Preet Kaur Gill said: “Labour will crack down on the vaping industry for marketing vapes to kids and make sure that under-18s can’t legally get their hands on vaping products.”

Mr Roach said: “We are seeing the impact of vaping not just on pupils’ health, because we are seeing pupils who are presenting as ill as a result of the overuse of vaping products and therefore becoming ill in schools, but on educational participation, progression and achievement.

“When pupils are diving off into the toilets to vape, that interrupts teaching and learning. When pupils are late arriving at school, perhaps because they have been vaping en route, that impacts on pupils’ learning.”

And he warned “There are also bullying behaviours that manifest themselves. Whether a pupil is making the choice to go out at lunchtime to acquire vapes or is feeling coerced to do so, there is an issue either way.”

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    Concerns were also raised by Matthew Shanks, chief executive of a schools trust in the south west and Chair of the Secondary Headteacher Reference Group, a body which advises the government.

    He said teachers struggled to prevent vaping because the products were harder to spot than cigarettes.

    “The size of vapes makes it very difficult to admonish children, because they can hide them very easily. They can look like mini hard drive sticks.”

    The pair were speaking to MPs examining the proposed new laws, who also heard from Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK. She said: “We urge you through your considerations in Parliament to pass the legislation, as does the public, 73% of whom support the legislation.”

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